Ahoy, squirts! Quint here, writing live from the D23 Arena as the first presentation of the Disney Con wraps up. We have a lot of titles to go over, but I wanted to start with my favorite stuff from the presentation: Pete Docter's Inside Out.
The lead character is a girl named Riley. She's 11 years old and her family just moved to San Francisco and is having trouble adjusting. One of the reasons is internally some stuff's going on. This film posits that everybody has five different emotions at deck in your noggin': Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness and Joy.
Yes, the concept is very Herman's Head, but I think they're really going whole hog here, taking it in a much different direction.
Here's the voice cast: Lewis Black is Anger (naturally) and his character looks a bit like a squat, red Michael Douglas from Falling Down, Mindy Kaling voices Disgust, who is a green-skinned, green-haired lady who thinks everything is gross, Bill Hader is Fear, who is purple skinned, dweeby and afraid of everything, Sadness looks like Velma from Scooby-Doo and is voiced by The Office's Phyllis Smith and Joy is voiced by Amy Poehler and is portrayed as vibrant, upbeat and pixie-ish.
Joy is seemingly in control of Riley's head. We saw a sequence showing how these emotions work. There's a circular area, that looks a bit Starship Enterprise-ish, where an emotion sees through Riley's eyes and decides what her interaction will be and what memories to store.
The first bit we saw was Joy seeing a toddler-age Riley spell out an R with her french fries and cry out happily “R for Riley!” Joy claps like a cheerleader watching a cute kitty video online, pulls a lever and out pops a yellow orb. These are short term memories that are stored on the “headquarters” and can be viewed at any point by the emotions, like popping in a DVD. I presume this is akin to getting lost in thought for the person, thinking back over a recent moment.
Pete Docter was on stage showing us art from various places within the mind, including a Matrix-esque Long Term Memory library of electricity and giant towers. There was also Dream Production where dreams are made... which looked like a movie studio. Docter said that dreams and nightmares were made there with lots of improv, which is why dreams are so weird. There was a land of abstract ideas with crazy abstract people walking around and Imaginationland, which looked a hell of a lot like a souped up Disneyland. “Any similarity to a nearby theme park is... well, obvious,” said Docter with a laugh.
All these lands are tied joined by train... Train of thought, get it? Apparently one of the central points of the plot is Joy getting lost on this train, leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear in control of Riley, which is why she's acting out post-San Francisco move.
They concluded with a whole sequence that was shown only in rough pencil storyboard form. I love stuff like this and even at this early stage this sequence was the stand-out of the presentation for me. It felt like old school Pixar, very character driven and taking something complex and making it simple and funny.
It was a simple scene of an argument over dinner, except with the cut ins to Riley's emotions a while new layer is brought to this moment. Her mom asks how school went and it obviously wasn't a good first day because Anger is the first one to take over the console in “headquarters” prompting Riley to be snippy with her mom. The surprising thing from this sequence was when Riley snaps at her mother we then cut inside Mom's head and see her emotions take notice. They're sitting around a table and all look like different versions of mom. “What did she say to us?!?”
Disgust and Fear get a turn and only make things worse. Dad's just sitting there eating and when mom shoots him a look for help we cut inside to his emotions and they're all watching a hockey game, cheering along. Back in Mom's head she's now pissed at her husband, too, but his emotions realize they're being watched and make the connection that she needs some backup with the kid. They all run to battle stations like they're in a submarine movie.
When the attitude continues from Riley, Dad's head goes into Defcon 2 mode, which is a precursor to “the foot coming down.” When he's pushed further his emotions unlock foot-down mode like they're launching a nuclear missile... two keys turned simultaneously, button pressed, etc. The scene ends with a successful launch of the foot coming down, which in reality is dad sending Riley to her room.
It was funny, inventive, complex, yet strangely simple. In other words is the kind of thing I want and expect from Pixar every time out.
That was my favorite thing I saw, but there's still some more goodies to come, so stay tuned for my continuing coverage. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter for live reactions as the expo continues this weekend.